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Wednesday 19.09.2018 | Name days: Verners, Muntis
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Association manager mentions serious lack of support for foster families

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUFoster families in Latvia are supervised and controlled rather strictly, but they do not receive sufficient support from the state, said Professional Foster Families Association of Latvia Ārija Martukāne in an interview to Rīga panorama.

She says there are approximately 575 foster families in Latvia. 75% of them are aged above 45, one-third of them have higher education, and approximately half live in private homes. On average, foster families in Latvia have 2-3 foster children.

According to Martukāne, what is worrying is that since 2012 the number of foster families in Latvia has not changed or has changed very little. She says the number of foster families in Latvia stopped growing after the closure of Child and Family Affairs Ministry.

«This can be explained with activities that were being performed by the ministry – there was support, understanding and commitment. Once the ministry was liquidated, it resulted in a crack for the development of the foster family movement. This is because focus was changed, as did support functions. Instead of maintaining sufficient support, the focus switched to supervisory and control functions,» explains the head of the association.

According to her, many functions that were being performed by the now non-existent ministry were delegated to State Inspectorate for Protection of Children’s Rights, which controls and supervises more than it provides support for foster families in different practical matters.

As an example, she mentioned a situation when foster families receive a teenager with a criminal past, and foster families are forced to help him rehabilitate, pay fines and go with him to court hearings. Other times when foster families get into problematic situations the child is immediately taken from them and put into a crisis centre, which is not the best solution, says Martukāne. «We lack a complex focus on child care in the existing methodology,» she explains.

When asked what could be done to improve the situation with foster families in Latvia, Martukāne replied by saying that the first thing to resolve would be the lack of support. Secondly, it is necessary to change the established view on foster families in residents’ minds.

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